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“The P.S.I.D. Incident”
From 1987 – 9, I worked in the Intelligence Management Branch of HQMC (INTM). One of my colleagues and comrades there was LDO 0205 Captain Joe Burroughs, a PGIP classmate from 1984-5. Joe was working on some sensitive projects, while I was assisting LtCol. Steve Foster (of MCIA fame) in the main part of INTM – people and training.
Joe gave me a souvenir that I kept on my desk as a paperweight. It was an old “Personnel Seismic Intrusion Device” or “P.S.I.D.” (pronounced “pee-sid”). This type of technology was developed during the Vietnam War. Placed on the ground, these devices could measure the vibrations in the ground of passing personnel or vehicles, and tell you where, when, in what strength, and in what direction X number of people or vehicles had passed – pretty neat gadgets! The model Captain Burroughs gave to me was disguised to look like animal feces – a turd, in a word. It made a great conversation piece with visitors and also a useful paperweight. It was about 3” long and shaped like a cigar, tapered at both ends – max diameter of about an inch. It was very realistic in appearance. The Corps surely got its money worth from that product.
The Marine Corps does strive to be fair, so in its administration of such measures as the “Random Urinalysis” (R.U.), better known as the “Piss test”, even the staff at HQMC had to participate from time to time. INTM (Room 3219, as I recall, in the Navy Annex) happened to be located next door to a head/latrine/mens’ room. So when the Headquarters Battalion DAACO Rep. set up to conduct the R.U. of INT, he set up his table just outside the head. The NCOIC of the operation sat at the desk, collected Marines’ ID cards as hostage for their urine sample bottles, and then sent Marines into the head to piss in the bottle under the direct supervision of the Assistant DAACO NCO – SOP for this necessary but distasteful drill. However, the buck sergeant administering this RU was obviously a wee bit nervous making field grade officers and senior SNCO’s go through this annoying interruption to their busy days pushing papers around the Headquarters. I anticipated this possibility.
When it was finally my turn to participate, I gave him my ID card in exchange for the plastic urine sample bottle. His instructions to me were, “Sir, please go into the head and ‘go to the bathroom in the bottle’.” I had also anticipated such polite but imprecise instructions, so I thought “Gotcha!” Into the head I went, pulled the PSID out of my pocket, gave a quick class on said device to the Assistant DAACO, and told him I’d be right back to piss in the bottle.
Then I inserted the PSID into the bottle (it just fit) and returned to the DAACO NCO at his desk. I offered him the bottle and said, “Here, Sergeant. I did as you instructed me.” He looked at the bottle, thought I had defecated into it, almost retched, and said, “Sir, I meant to piss in the bottle, not shxt in it!” I replied, “OK, then let this be a lesson in communications to you, Sergeant. When you give a Marine an order, make sure you tell him what you really want him to do.” Then I gave him a quick class on PSID’s, went back into the head, urinated in the bottle, turned it in to the NCO, and went back to work. Naturally I passed the Piss Test, without even having to study. (As long as one couldn’t “pop positive” for beer or coffee, I was good-to-go.)